Bookshare Releases NIMAS Validator Software To Speed Production of High Quality Accessible Digital Books
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Palo Alto, CA, January 29, 2008 –Bookshare® has released a free beta version of its NIMAS Validator software application that locates errors in digital books produced under the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). NIMAS guides the production and electronic distribution of digital versions of textbooks and other instructional materials so they can be more easily converted into accessible formats. The NIMAS Validator examines the Extensible Markup Language (XML) used to convert original printed content into Braille or audio formats accessible to readers with print disabilities. The creation of the NIMAS Validator was made possible through a generous grant by NEC Foundation of America.
Bookshare’s NIMAS Validator helps replace the laborious process of human validation by automatically checking a series of key formatting criteria in NIMAS files such as scanning for the correct sequence of page numbers and missing images. The NIMAS Validator also provides an overview of the document’s structure including chapter divisions and metadata on the book’s publisher, title and ISBN number. The NIMAS format is especially important to students with disabilities, since recent changes to federal law made NIMAS the standard accessible format for all K-12 textbooks.
The NIMAS Validator is intended for use by organizations creating NIMAS files, such as schools and publishers, who want to verify the accuracy of their digital books before submitting them to Bookshare or the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), a central repository for NIMAS files. The application will help groups who do not have formal XML training efficiently improve the quality of their accessible books. Bookshare will be using the NIMAS Validator to help automate the process of adding new texts to the Bookshare library, the world’s largest accessible collection of digital books and periodicals.
“This application fills an important niche because it’s the first NIMAS validator tool that is freely available to people producing digital books,” says Reuben Firmin, lead engineer for Bookshare. “We are planning to make much of our Bookshare software code available to the public within the next six to nine months. We welcome support from the open source community to help us improve the algorithms for these validators and converters.”
According to Firmin, Bookshare will continue to improve the NIMAS
Validator by adding more heuristic methods to examine the quality of
accessible digital books. In the next month, Bookshare will also
release free software that validates accessible texts formatted under
the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) standard for Digital
Talking Books. To use the beta version of Bookshare’s NIMAS
Validator software, visit Bookshare.
Bookshare is an online community that allows people with print disabilities to legally download books and periodicals to be read as Braille, large print or synthetic speech. In October of 2007, Bookshare received a $32 million five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education to significantly expand the availability of accessible digital books and software for reading those books. Bookshare is operated by Benetech®, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit technology development organization that creates social enterprise projects for the disability, literacy and human rights communities.
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